Deidre Bair received the National Book Award for Samuel Beckett: A Biography. Her biographies of Simone de Beauvoir and Carl Jung were finalists for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Simone de Beauvoir biography was chosen by The New York Times as a Best Book of the Year. Her biographies of Anais Nin and Saul Steinberg were both New York Times Notable Books. Her most recent book is Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend.
Parisian Lives gives readers insight into Bair herself as a woman and writer undertaking the alternately arduous and thrilling, hilarious and inspiring task of writing the biographies of Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir. As pure memoir it is transporting, and as tribute to the art of biography it is a crucial guide for those aspiring to take a similar journey into someone else's life. Bair shows how it should be done, which is to say how she did it. -- Mary Gabriel, author of Ninth Street Women Parisian Lives is a signal achievement. Deirdre Bair's engrossing account of nearly two decades of adventures in Paris brings the city to vivid life. And her personal story, told here in gripping fashion, becomes as compelling as those of her illustrious biographical subjects. -- Mary V. Dearborn, author of Ernest Hemingway This memoir is one of a kind. The backstory of two of the great biographies of our time, it is absorbing from start to finish. I read it in two sittings: that's how eager I was to know what came next. -- Vivian Gornick, author of The Odd Woman and the City By turns scholarly and salacious, biographer Bair has loosened decades of polite tongue-biting to write the backstory in what she calls a bio-memoir of two influential writers... A generous and graceful writer... Bair's exhaustively detailed and lively memoir also serves as a solid study in the art of biography. * Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) * In a candid and engrossing memoir, Bair creates unvarnished portraits of those two headstrong, demanding, and brilliant individuals as well as of her growth as a researcher, writer, and feminist... A rare, welcome look at the art and craft of biography. * Kirkus Reviews * A totally compelling account by a master biographer of the joys and frustrations of writing another's life. While some of her revelations are explosive, Bair manages to present her legendary subjects, Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir, as poignantly human. This groundbreaking work returns us nostalgically to a literary Paris that teems with intrigue and humor. -- Rosemary Sullivan, author of Stalin's Daughter Full of encounters, reflections, tribulations, and revelations - an enthralling account of a biographer's lot, by one of the art's most distinguished practitioners. -- Sarah Bakewell, author of At the Existentialist Cafe